Weekend NYC Experiences: Off the Beaten Path
If you’ve already been to New York City (NYC) and checked off all of the landmarks including the Statue of Liberty, the Brooklyn Bridge and Central Park, it‘s time for you to venture back for a whole new itinerary of unique experiences. Here are some of the best local suggestions for enjoying the city in a whole new way.
Visit the Boroughs
Cultural gems beyond Manhattan? Sure, you might have visited Williamsburg, Brooklyn for Smorgasburg or the Brooklyn Flea, but there is more—much more culture for you to take in on your next trip. In Brooklyn alone, get out to Bushwick to see the graffiti murals covering many industrial buildings throughout the neighborhood. While there, stop by some of the cool coffee shops and boutiques or grab a seat at the popular Roberta’s, you will not be disappointed by the pizza selection or creative slushy cocktails. If planning a trip around the summer months, make the most of this area by embracing the Bushwick Collective, a block party celebrating graffiti art, food carts and more.
For a deeper cultural dive, you must visit Queens. Get out to Flushing, Queens for more than tennis (although the US Open is a good excuse to visit) or a Mets game at Citi Field. Anthony Bourdain famously trekked through Queens and ate his way through to Flushing, where he made Xi’an Famous Foods a popular fast-dining option to New Yorkers. The family of the restaurant opened up spots throughout Manhattan after their success in Flushing, Queens. Venture through Flushing for a plethora of dining options, from Chinese street food to dumplings and unique grocery stores selling products catering to the Chinese community.
If you have time for more of Queens, visit Astoria for some European bites, including classic Greek and Italian restaurants to new and local favorites such as QWNS Café. The café sources locally and uses organic ingredients for their delicious menu—everything is absolutely tasty.
Another gem is Jackson Heights, an ethnically diverse part of Queens with a larger Indian and South Asian population. You cannot go wrong with the dining options – from favorites such as the Jackson Diner to Patel Brothers, a supermarket where you can find authentic and niche Indian ingredients, to small boutiques selling beautiful saris, you can fill a full day’s itinerary exploring this neighborhood alone.
Beyond The Museum Mile
While you’ve probably visited The Met and MoMA on your first trip to NYC or even the Museum Mile, lined with top NYC museums such as the Guggenheim and Neue Gallery, experience some of the other top attractions (more known and popular with locals) such as the Botanical Gardens (NYBG) in the Bronx. Besides special exhibitions such as Georgia O’Keeffe’s Visions of Hawai’i, the NYBG is also a major educational institution and a National Historic Landmark. For art, architecture, and gardens with a medieval European focus, add The Met Cloisters to the list. Bonus: the garden is a great spot to snap some photos.
During the holiday season, walk over to Bryant Park for ice skating and delicious bites or to The Rink at Brookfield Place in Lower Manhattan—both great alternatives to the generally packed Wollman Rink in Central Park. For New Year’s Eve, find fun alternatives to the Times Square ball drop, such as dinner and dancing at the classic Cipriani’s NYE shindig to start the new year off in style.
More than likely, you might have caught a game at Madison Square Garden or Yankee Stadium, but there are other ways to experience sports in NYC. If you have the energy, head to Brooklyn Boulder for indoor rock climbing or Chelsea Piers for everything from bowling, to a scenic golf driving range, ice-skating, and trapeze lessons. If you still fancy yourself a better spectator than athlete, you might become inspired to nab some hot dogs after watching the annual Nathan’s Famous International Hot Dog Eating Contest on Coney Island. You can only watch this unique sporting event once annually in NYC—July 4th, but you’re likely to witness something unique in the one and only Big Apple.
Plan ahead or Get Caught In the Moment
You have the opportunity to live in the moment, sometimes, the best way to experience NYC, or any city for the matter, is not to plan an itinerary. Still, if you at least want to hold onto a roster of ideas you can also tweet out questions to @HiltonSuggests for additional itinerary inspiration globally.
Know Before You Go
- Opt for walking tours instead of bus tours if you want to eliminate the issue of traffic – just make sure to pack comfortable shoes!
- If you bring your own ice skates, Bryant Park allows you to ice skate for free in the winter.
- The Bronx Zoo is pay-what-you-wish on Wednesdays.
- Utilize the New York Subway to travel like a local – it’s also a great way to avoid traffic!